Strokes are the invisible and silent enemy of anybody. They come up unexpectedly and incapacitate a person in a blink of an eye. There are more preventive measures than solutions. Once the weak blood flow reaches the brain, it causes unrepairable damages and cells die. Doctors turned to nature for help. They discovered a solution in the most improbable source, namely a deadly spider.
The New Cure Is Called Hi1a
One of the deadliest spiders in the world has the capacity to kill a person in 15 minutes with one bite. The Australian funnel web spider also represents an innovative solution to strokes. More exactly, scientists found a miracle protein in its venom. This component can protect brain cells from the damages a stroke may cause. The results of the study show that its effects are powerful even hours after the cerebral accident.
The members of the scientific team come from the Monash University and the University of Queensland. They found the solution to strokes in the Fraser Island in Australia. This is home to some of the deadliest arachnids on Earth. They managed to capture three such specimens. Back in their lab, they extracted the venom in pipettes. The final step was to enhance a certain protein from the venom gland synthetically. The result was the cure called Hi1a.
The study used only lab rats to test the new medicine. Even though the cure did not prove its efficiency on humans yet, the results are surprising. Scientists watched how Hi1a blocks ion channels in the brain. These play a major role in the process of damaging brain cells after a stroke.
The Reason Why a Deadly Spider Is Actually a Lifesaver
Lead researcher of the paper, Prof Glenn King, explained that his laboratory deals mainly with disorders affecting the human nervous system. All these cases are directly connected to ion channels. These can suffer from a dysfunction such as epilepsy or from an over-active state which leads to stroke or chronic pain.
Doctors thought it normal to look for a cure in the venom of a deadly spider. This is because evolution enabled them to incapacitate their prey by shutting down their very nervous system. Thus, their venom contains agents that modulate ion channels. By altering the very protein that controls this power under lab conditions, scientists can turn deadly venom into a cure for strokes. The next step in this study is to assess whether the medicine is safe enough for human trials.
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